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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC basketball downs UNCW in road battle behind Anthony, Pierce and Brooks

UNC junior forward Garrison Brooks (15) sinks a basket during their game against UNC-Wilmington in Trask Coliseum on Friday, Nov. 8, 2019.

WILMINGTON, N.C. — The No. 9 North Carolina men's basketball team (2-0) won its first road game of the season against UNCW (1-1) on Friday, 78-62. First-year guard Cole Anthony led the way with 20 points, while graduate forward Justin Pierce and junior forward Garrison Brooks both posted 18 points.

What happened?

The Tar Heels missed six of their first seven shots, but the combination of Pierce and Anthony kept them in it early. At the 13:43 mark, they had combined for all of UNC's 14 points, while the Seahawks had 11 quick points with the help of a raucous home crowd.

Later, back-to-back dunks for Brooks put North Carolina up 20-19, then a 10-2 run gave the Tar Heels a nine-point advantage with less than eight minutes to go until halftime.

After picking up two quick fouls early on, first-year center Armando Bacot returned to the game only to be shaken up and sent to the locker room, from which he would not return. His status is unknown.

At the half, UNC led the Seahawks 40-29, though the teams combined to make just 24 of 74 shot attempts. Pierce paced North Carolina with 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Anthony had 12 points on 4-14 shooting and Brooks had 10 to go with seven boards.

Midway through the second half, a 21-8 spurt from the Tar Heels pushed the lead all the way to 22 with under nine minutes to go. Seven different UNC players scored in that time, including Anthony, who nailed a tough step-back three to push the lead to 20 for the first time.

From there, the game was all but a formality, as the Seahawks never came within single digits again and the undermanned Tar Heels left Trask Coliseum with a win.

Who stood out?

After going 1-6 for five points in the season opener against Notre Dame, Pierce was much improved in his second game in a Tar Heel jersey, posting 18 points on 4-7 from three-point range. 

Anthony and Brooks were the only other two players to reach double digits for North Carolina, though guard Leaky Black added eight points and Andrew Platek had six.

When was it decided?

The early second half run for UNC all but decided the game. With the UNC lead at nine with 14:47 to go, the Tar Heels scored 10 straight points on the backs of five different players. At the 11:52 mark of the second half, North Carolina held a 19-point lead that the Seahawks weren't able to erase.

Why does it matter?

The win is UNC's first on the road this season, coming without Bacot for much of the game. After he went down, head coach Roy Williams played just seven players when the result of the game was still in question, a testament to UNC's injury problems at the moment. 

Still, the Tar Heels did enough to secure a win against an in-state opponent and Seahawks head coach C.B. McGrath, a former UNC assistant. 

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels won't play again until next Friday when they face off against Gardner-Webb at home in Chapel Hill at 9 p.m.


@DTHSports |

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